Rep. Jim Hansen maintains his 10-point lead over Democrat Gunn McKay in the 1st Congressional District race and Rep. Wayne Owens has widened his lead to 22 points over Republican Richard Snelgrove in the 2nd District, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
In a survey conducted last week, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that if the election had been held then in the 1st District, Hansen, the Republican seeking his fourth term, would get 51 percent of the vote, McKay, who held the seat before Hansen beat him in 1980, would get 41 percent of the vote and 8 percent were undecided.In the 2nd District, Owens is favored by 55 percent of those questioned, Snelgrove gets 33 percent of the vote, Libertarian Michael Lee gets 0 percent, 1 percent of those surveyed would vote for someone else and 10 percent didn't know who they would vote for.
Jones conducted the survey Sept. 6-8, interviewing 300 people in each district. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percent.
The pollster also asked district voters to rank the incumbents' job performance. Hansen's job performance
s about what it was when last measured in January. Owens' job approval has dropped about 10 points since then, Jones found.
Today, 58 percent strongly or somewhat approve of the job Hansen is doing, 24 percent disapprove and 18 percent don't know.
Fifty-nine percent strongly or somewhat approve of Owen's job performance, 29 percent disapprove and 12 percent don't know.
McKay spokesman Dave Dixon said McKay doesn't believe Jones figures. "A number of other polls have this an even race. Only Jones, who received $5,000 (in polling fees) from Hansen, comes up with different figures." Dixon went on to say that while the other congressional incumbents hold healthy leads over their challengers, "Jim Hansen is locked in tight race in a Republican district because of his mediocre leadership."
Dixon said the fact that Hansen only has 58 percent approval rating and 18 percent don't know the kind of job he's doing, "shows us half of the district is unhappy with job Jim is doing."
Jones, in reply to McKay's statements about his polling, said: "My record is clear. I report who is ahead, as I did on election night 1986." McKay challenged Hansen again in 1986, and Jones, much to Hansen's dislike, said on election night he thought McKay would win. "This is a volatile race again this year. But we go with our data and our statistics. I put my reputation on the line with each survey. I would be foolish to predict one (candidate) over another if our research didn't show that."
Peter Jenks, Hansen's campaign manager, said, "We're awfully pleased with this poll. We believe this is a 10-point race or wider. Gunn is failing in his campaign, a thing of the past. The race will fluctuate a bit, but we expect to win by 10 points at least."
Said Owens about the poll: "This is where we expected to be. I hope to win and look forward to a hard two months of campaigning in Utah. The poll tells me that the people believe I've been faithful to my campaign promises."